After an overwhelming response from Shark Tank on the subject of fat storage & hormones I felt to conduct an interview style write up to give you women (and men) an overview. I hope it helps!
Generally speaking, how can a hormone imbalance impact our ability to lose weight, even if we’re exercising and eating well?
Research has found that lifestyle & toxicity in the body can lead to weight gain, even if we are eating well and exercising. Two of the main hormones that can contribute to this are;
Cortisol, a hormone secreted by the adrenals when our body is under any type of physical stress including lack of sleep, dehydration or overtraining & mental stress such as anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress syndrome.
Oestrogen, which when produced in excess amounts from xenoestrogens or oestrogen mimickers, (environmental toxins like pesticide parabens or plastics).
The imbalance occurs when each hormone latches onto an existing receptor site. These receptor sites are proteins found within and around certain parts of the body. If the right substance (or the wrong substance such as an oestrogen mimicker) comes along it fits into the receptor like a lock and key, activity in the cell begins to occur.
Cortisol receptor sites are predominately around the naval area so when excess production occurs that is where the activity in the cell begins, causing the body to store fat. Oestrogen receptor sites are predominately in the lower body so again when the wrong substance attaches to these sites it causes an excess in the body leading to oestrogen dominance and fat gain in this area. The appearance of cellulite is a big indicator that there is oestrogen dominance in the body.
Are certain lifestyle factors more to blame for hormone imbalance than others?
Generally, high exposure to oestrogen mimickers including skin care products that include heavy metals such as parabens, plastics containing PBA and pesticides which are present in non-organic foods. Other contributing factors are emotional stress or physiological stress including lack of sleep and dehydration should also be avoided if trying to reduce the hormones that cause imbalance. Stress management and limiting your exposure to oestrogen mimickers are both crucial in claiming back hormone balance in the body. Oestrogen mimicker free products here
Are women more affected by men when it comes to hormone imbalance? Is hormone imbalance unique to menopausal or pre-menopausal women?
Hormone imbalance is not exclusive to women. Men can still have excess oestrogen from the high exposure to the oestrogen mimickers which can also in turn lead to not enough testosterone being produced which can affect not only weight gain but lowers sex drive and the males ability to increase lean muscle mass which is crucial in keeping a lean physique. In men excess pectoral or chest fat is an indication of such an imbalance but with the correct nutrition, training regime and natural supplementation like zinc this imbalance can, over time, be corrected.
Women pre and post-menopausal are subject to the same issues. Even though women see a decline in oestrogen as they go through menopause, which is completely natural and healthy, if they continue to have high exposure to oestrogen mimickers the same risks of fat gain and other health issues can occur. Progesterone levels can also drop dramatically.
Can different hormones affect our general health and ability to lose weight in different ways?
Absolutely. They are now linking excess oestrogen to a host of other issues in the body. Some suggesting high oestrogen can, in some cases, increase your risk of breast cancer and endometriosis. Insulin is another hormones that when secreted in high amounts can lead to health conditions such as type 2 diabetes. If production of cortisol is high for prolonged periods of time this can affect the adrenals leading to conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome.
If you are looking to target a stubborn area of body fat then I would definitely look at how each hormone works in the body. For example if the love handle area is your concern than insulin control is essential. So this would be addressed predominately through choosing foods with a low insulin response. Decreasing refined sugar and increasing protein will help control the production of insulin. If arm fat is an issue for you look at ways to improve the production of the hormone DHEA. Low levels of DHEA have been linked to low muscle mass particularly mid arm muscle. The more lean muscle we have the better our ability to lose fat so this hormone is vital to stay lean and healthy.
Are there any signs we can look for to help in detecting a hormone imbalance?
Unexplained fat gain or stubborn areas of body fat, inability to improve lean muscle mass, mood swings or mood disorders such as anxiety or depression, acne and other skin conditions, cellulite, low sex drive in men and women, lack of energy and early morning fatigue are all signs there could be possible hormone imbalance.
What are some lifestyle changes that can help to correct a hormone imbalance where it doesn’t necessarily require medical treatment?
I would start by getting the basics right. Go to bed at the same time, wake up at the same time, sleep in a dark room for hormone health, have good choices such as low GI or low insulin response foods. Have a cut off time for smart phones and other electronic devices as they can be the cause of excess cortisol production.
Take magnesium with D3 as it is a natural cortisol blocker. An omega 3 high potency krill oil to make your body more insulin sensitive & a good quality multi vitamin that can help naturally detox oestrogen. Increasing leafy greens can also help with detoxing oestrogen as well as grainless fibres such chia seed, flaxseed lignans and slippery elm.
I hope this helps my Shredders and please do not hesitate to email me for any further questions.
Also read my other blogs in my Hormone Health series;
EAT for hormone health
TRAIN for hormone health
SUPPLEMENT for hormone health
LIVE for hormone health
Yours in Hormone Health & Fitness,
"Sally Matterson is one of Australia’s foremost personal trainers. With over 13 years of industry experience, her cutting edge methods of training are in high demand helping actors, models, athletes & everyday people get their bodies in peak physical condition. As a qualified BioSignature Practitioner (study of hormones & their correlation to fat storage), she has revolutionised the way her customers and followers think about conventional means of weight loss." - Rockpool Publishing